It’s been 35 years since a First Kid has attended a school other than Sidwell Friends, the private school whose student body has included Chelsea Clinton and both Obama girls. The elite Quaker institution in leafy upper northwest Washington has educated many a political offspring, from Vice President Joe Biden’s grandchildren to Al Gore III to both Nixon daughters.
But will President-elect Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, enroll their 10-year-old son, Barron, there? Some educational experts say it’s unlikely.
First of all, we’re not even sure that The Family Trump will actually decamp from their glittery penthouse spread high atop Trump Towers (where the boy has his own floor) for the relatively more cramped residence at the White House. Which could mean Barron would continue at his current private school in Manhattan, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School.
And even if the Trumps do put down roots in Washington, some doubt that the Trumps would pick Sidwell, a school that’s become associated in recent years with the Clintons and the Obamas. “It’s associated with the liberal intelligentsia of Washington,” says educational consultant Steven Roy Goodman, who has helped many a high-profile family navigate the area’s private-school landscape. Ditto the Washington International School, whose internationalist philosophy might not jibe with Trump’s build-the-wall ethos. “I don’t see that as a fit here.”
That still leaves plenty of options. Shall we put aside the idea that he’d attend public school, as Amy Carter did? According to D.C.’s enrollment guide, a kid living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., is slated to attend the School Without Walls at Francis Stevens, a public pre-K-8th-grade institution in Foggy Bottom. But despite Trump’s populist bent, he enrolled Barron (and all his other kids) in private schools.
Starchy uniforms aren’t a problem for the suit-loving boy, whose mom proudly told ABC “isn’t a sweatpants child.”
And whatever school they land on will benefit from the prestige of schooling presidential offspring, the marketing value of which is more than enough to offset the hassle of a Secret Service presence.
Goodman says he often counsels parents to look at their own schooling when picking a spot for their children, since that’s most likely to put them in their comfort zone. “Given what I know about President-elect Trump, which is that he comes from more of a traditional, classic background, I think that might lead you to Virginia schools,” he says. St. Stephen’s in Alexandria, the co-ed Westminster in Annandale, and Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Fairfax County might fit the bill, he says.
St. Alban’s, the all-boys school near the Washington National Cathedral (short commute!), is often mentioned as a possibility for the future First Kid. And the Potomac School in McLean is no stranger to political kids, either – students have included the grandchildren of former vice president Dick Cheney, and former senator Evan Bayh, who enrolled when his father, Birch Bayh, was in the Senate.
Leigh Ann Cahill, of the consulting group Independent School Options, notes that the Trumps might want a school that’s similar to the one their son currently attends. Columbia (where Barron is either a fourth- or fifth-grader) is a coed, secular school that’s not thought of as one of Manhattan’s academic pressure-cookers.
The Landon School, though it’s all-boys, could be a good fit, she says, or a “religion-lite” option, like St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day.
No matter the school, she says, young Barron might experience some “social bumps” after such a divisive political campaign. “He might find that there’s a level of awareness and even commitment among his classmates,” she says. “It’s not necessarily like that in New York.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Emily Heil